We had the good fortune of connecting with Ray Cunningham and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ray, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
Hollywood is made for hustlers. You may have aspirations but proper networking will make your wildest dreams come true.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I got my start 15 years ago at BET. Me not even realizing how significant me being casted on College Hill was at the time. I was the networks FIRST- EVER gay anything on air because at that time, being gay wasn’t celebrated as it is now. I went from an over protected environment to the world of television and opinion over night in a brand new genre of tv. We were the first collective of African American reality stars so I had no idea where the opportunity with BET was going to take me. I haven’t followed a particular blueprint but I’ve learned many lessons in maturity, professionalism and staying true to your original goals, not letting the success of others detour me from my journey and the process that comes with it. I’m most proud of releasing my upcoming memoir – Mess in the Message with Chocolate Readings, available on all literary platforms 6/18. It’s a witty and playfully messy recount of my journey from Virginia to Hollywood, BET to Vh1 and everything in between! I am where I am today professionally because I of my personality and willingness to adapt, improvise and overcome. I learned those lessons from my father. I want the world to know I’m a sippin Christian that sometimes slips, but I know God still has me. I’m not perfect but I’m striving daily to be impractical for my family and community.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Santa Monica beach pier, Brunch 2 Bomb series (sunday brunch and day party), Kaffe Rouge on Ventura in Studio City, Joey’s in Woodland Hills, Dream rooftop, Mama Shelter rooftop.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to shout out Rodney Chester for mentoring me and signing me up with TRIO Talent Agency, which groomed for me in so many aspects to better prepare for auditioning and networking in Hollywood.
I’ll be releasing a HBCU themed board game through IAS Games called Yard U that celebrates HBCU culture!